Change is in the airwaves

Scaling-up impact for sustainable development in and through community media in Tanzania

Micheveni Community Radio. © UNESCO

In the United Republic of Tanzania, approximately 70% of the population resides in rural areas (Census 2012), where the majority lives in poverty, and lack access to media and other outlets to access and impart information, and to exercise freedom of expression. While only 11% of Tanzanians can access and use Internet services, and only 19% have access to television, a significant 87.7% have access to radio (STID, 2011, pg147). The gender digital divide cuts across these figures, as women are disadvantaged in their representation in and access to media and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). 

In this context, UNESCO-Dar es Salaam has critically contributed to support the emergence of a growing Community Media Network, strengthening its capacity to serve as an independent, pluralistic vehicle to promote peaceful dialogue, civic participation and gender equality for sustainable development in Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar.

Linked with their rich tradition of oral history, radios are a principle source for news and information for Tanzanians. However, the concept of community radios in Tanzania is still fairly new. It was only on June 22, 2002 that the first community radio (ORS FM in Simanjiro) went on air.


The UNESCO Community Radio Programme started in 2007, by supporting the setting up of FADECO Community Radio in Karagwe. Up to 2007, there were only two registered community radios in Tanzania. Several others were struggling with the obstacles of an unsupportive institutional and policy environment as well as with many other challenges associated with lack of access to resources, infrastructure, and capacity development.

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Current activities

Currently, UNESCO seeks to consolidate and scale these impacts through by strengthening of the Community Media Network of Tanzania (COMNETA) to become a strong lobby group for Community Media in Tanzania, and as a powerful vehicle to sustainably promote development and participation in rural areas. UNESCO’s work in Tanzania now directly benefit about 140 women and men practitioners working in 12 Community Radios.

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In 2001 Sengerema Telecentre became operational as a Multi-purpose Community Telecentre; in 2002 ORS Community Radio goes on air as the first community radio in Tanzania; in 2006 UNESCO's Communication and Information Programme is established in Tanzania; in 2007 UNESCO supports FADECO Community Radio in Karagwe...

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